By (Matthew Speakman)

For the first time this season, Alabama point guard Collin Sexton will face off against his former teammate when Alabama travels to Auburn on Wednesday night.

Sexton spent three years playing alongside Auburn point guard Jared Harper at Pebblebrook High School in Mableton, Ga. There, the two led Pebblebrook to the state championship in 2016. Harper ultimately chose Auburn. A year later, Sexton went to Alabama.

Their relationship hasn’t faded, however. Sexton still keeps in touch with Harper even though they play at rival schools.

“We talk like pretty much every week,” Sexton said. “We have pretty good communication. Like when we go back home, we go out to eat.”

An abdominal injury kept Sexton from facing Harper for the first game between Alabama and Auburn.

Sexton then added that facing Harper will not make this game any different than others. When asked if they had spoken this week, he quickly responded, “no” and cracked a smile.

Still, it will be the first time Sexton and Harper have faced each other in a very long time. The two are used to being teammates, not opponents.

“The last time we played against each other, we were probably (in) eighth grade,” Sexton said.

Sexton and Harper have both been the engines that drive their team’s offenses. Sexton averages 18.1 points per game, while Harper averages 13 points and 5.8 assists.

The two rely on speed to get to the rim easy. Harper has a little bit more range than Sexton- he shoots 39 percent from three compared to Sexton’s 32 percent- but Sexton has a bigger frame.

“He’s kind of the maestro of their entire offensive,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said of Harper. “He knows where the ball should be delivered, at what time, at what speed and he’s a handful.”

Sexton agreed with his coach about his former teammate.

“He can drive as well as he can shoot the ball,” Sexton said of Harper. “He can pass it. He has an all-around game. Just watching him and learning from him has been pretty good.”

While Sexton has a connection to Auburn, he still has not had a taste of the Alabama-Auburn rivalry after being sidelined the first go-around.

Alabama made due without Sexton, however. Fellow freshman guard John Petty scored 27 points in Sexton’s absence to propel Alabama to a 76-71 win.

Still, Sexton’s teammates are glad to have him back.

“It’ll be big since he didn’t play last time,” sophomore forward Braxton Key said. “He’s a spark of energy, so it’ll be good for us having him this game. He’s done a great job. He’s leading the team well, he’s been a great floor general for us.”

Sexton being on the court against Auburn means Alabama will have the core of its lineup. Auburn will be without a key big man that it had last time the Tigers played Alabama.

Forward Anfernee McElmore went down with an ankle injrury in Auburn’s 84-75 loss to South Carolina. McElmore has been a big part Auburn’s inside game and averages 7.5 points per game and 5.3 rebounds.

Johnson believes Auburn will still have the same game plan.

“I don’t think they’re going to change at all,” Johnson said. “They are who they are. They are a fast team. They shoot a bunch of threes.”

Alabama vs. Auburn will tipoff at 7:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday on the SEC Network.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports